Ukrainians cursed Russia and voiced fears for the future Tuesday as river water from the breached Kakhovka dam reached their houses in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.
“Now we’re without electricity, without gas, without (running) water. Our vegetable patches are inundated,” said one tearful woman, 52-year-old Iryna.
“The water is reaching our houses and we are forced to evacuate,” Iryna said, standing with neighbours beside the swollen Dnipro River, which flows through Kherson.
Like other locals, she blamed Russian forces for the disaster as water poured over the damaged Kakhovka dam into the fast-flowing Dnipro River, flooding the surrounding area.
Kherson residents suffered greatly from the war when the city was occupied by Russian forces from March to November last year and the city has since come under heavy shelling.
“Not many people sympathise with us. We spent nine months under occupation, and now we have been flooded by the bloody occupiers,” Iryna said, raising fears that their plight could get even worse.
“We are afraid of what will happen this evening. We are afraid that there will be a major disaster.”
Another local woman, Svitlana, a 56-year-old nurse, condemned the flooding as a “disgraceful” act by Russians, standing close to the river water, saying she felt “even more hate, even more rage” at what happened.
“We will have problems when all this water retreats,” she warned.
“How will all this be restored, how will it function? How will we live here? I don’t understand?”
“Everything is going to die here,” said Sergiy as the water poured into Kherson,
“All the living creatures, and people will be flooded out,” he said, gesturing at nearby houses and gardens.
Muddy water flowed along roads,
In some areas people were packing up their belongings and preparing to evacuate.
“We’re afraid of flooding. We’re taking our things a little higher up,” said one woman, Lyudmyla, standing outside her house next to a trailer containing her belongings, including a washing machine.
Clutching her mobile phone, she angrily called for Russian forces to be “kicked out of here… they’re shooting at us. There they’re flooding us or doing something else.”
Locals stood staring down at the brown water from a road bridge built high enough to allow ?argo ships to pass under it, as water already lapped around warehouses on the bank.
“It’s about three metres (higher) for sure,” said one local man, Kostyantin.
“The flood is coming. You can really see it in front of your eyes,” said another Kherson resident, Viktor, standing on a raised railway line with a view of the river.
“What will happen next, no one knows.”
“Let’s just say that the only good Russian is a dead Russian.”
Sergiy, who was standing nearby, said the area has a high water table anyway. “Now the river is coming up and all this will be flooded.
“People will suffer. There’s already no water coming out of taps — why not, no one knows,” he said, gesturing helplessly./pvh